By Todd Wills
Special to the Corsicana Daily Sun
After a one-season absence, the Corsicana Tigers softball team is back in the postseason.
They open Friday's best-of-three Region II-4A bi-district playoff series against Mansfield Legacy with veteran players at important positions who were a part of the Tigers 2011 postseason run.
The one that included an epic 16-inning area-round playoff game against Royse City.
"We're excited to be back in there," Tigers coach Elizabeth Collier said. "Off my team, we have five who where from that playoff team. So we have some new ones too."
The Tigers' top two pitchers, Sidney Kirk and Raylee Smithart, were on the 2011 playoff team that lost to Royse City 1-0 in a Game 1 of the series that went four hours and 53 minutes. The Tigers also lost 5-0 in Game 2. The Tigers' defense made four errors behind Sidney Kirk in that second game.
"Sidney pitched very well in that game," Collier said.
The Tigers (19-13) and Mansfield Legacy (24-7-1) will open their three-game series at 7 p.m. Friday in Mansfield. Game 2 will be at noon Saturday in Corsicana. Game 3 if necessary would be 30 minutes after Game 2, also in Corsicana.
Legacy finished in second place in a competitive District 15-4A race. They have two solid pitchers, Ryan Wright, who is 6-1 with a 3.62 ERA and 91 strikeouts in 52 2/3 innings, and Courtney Hart, who is 8-1 with a 4.05 ERA. Legacy's top hitter is infielder Briana Walker, who has a .609 batting average, 23 RBIs and 24 stolen bases.
Wright has been injured some this season, but the Tigers expect to see her best, Collier said.
"We've been working on attacking what we know she is going to bring," Collier said.
Aside from Smithart and Kirk, three other players played on the 2011 Tigers playoff team -- Katy Polk, Kelsie Triplett and Maddie Andrews. Polk and Triplett started in the outfield. Kirk played second base. Smithart was the designated hitter (player). Andrews was a courtesy runner.
Smithart and Kirk have blossomed into the Tigers' top hitters. Andrews, who skipped a year of softball, also ignites the offense.
"Smithart and Kirk, they bring it every time they step up to the plate," Collier said. "Maddie does a great job of putting the ball in play. She gives us a lot of opportunities to score."
The Tigers, who finished in third place in 16-4A, battled consistency all season. They played well in the last week of the regular season, beating Lindale and losing to Whitehouse in a game in which the Tigers rallied from behind to get a lead before losing.
"We can go up and we can down," Collier said. "At the end of it, we do have the fight. We showed it in the Whitehouse game. We came from behind and went ahead. They showed themselves that they do have it."
Region II-4A Bi-District Playoff
Game 1: 7 p.m. Friday, Mansfield Legacy
Game 2: Noon, Saturday, Corsicana
Game 3: If Needed, Corsicana, 30 minutes after conclusion of Game 2
Records: Legacy 24-7-1, Corsicana 19-13
Players to Watch: Legacy: Pitcher Ryan Wright, pitcher Courtney Hart, INF Briana Walker; Corsicana: Pitcher/3B Sidney Kirk, Pitcher/3B Raylee Smithart, 1B Maddie Andrew, OF Katy Polk, OF Kelsie Triplett.